In recent months, a split of authority has emerged in the California Court of Appeal regarding whether a nonparty aggrieved employee has standing to intervene in a Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) action to challenge a settlement. Each case involved multiple PAGA plaintiffs pursuing parallel lawsuits against the same defendant. The first decision on this issue, Turrieta v. Lyft, Inc., 69 Cal. App. 5th 955 (2021), held that the parallel plaintiffs had no standing to intervene. It concluded that their rights and interests were unaffected by the settlement, because a PAGA action seeks to vindicate the state’s interests in enforcing the Labor Code, not private plaintiff’s interests. (To read about the Turrieta decision, click here.)
Two subsequent decisions disagreed. In Uribe v. Crown Building Maintenance Co., 70 Cal. App. 5th 986 (2021), the court held that trial courts may permit parallel plaintiffs to intervene to challenge a settlement they contend is unfair. Moniz v. Adecco USA, Inc., 72 Cal. App. 5th 56 (2021), came to the same conclusion. (To read about the Uribe and Moniz decisions, click here and here.)
The appellants in Turrieta petitioned the California Supreme Court for review. On December 27, 2021, the Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA)—which is charged with overseeing private enforcement efforts under PAGA—filed an amicus curiae letter in support of the petition. The LWDA expressed its “significant concerns that its enforcement interests... are not served by the precedent created by Turrieta,” and explained that if review is granted, it intends to submit an amicus brief supporting the right of parallel PAGA plaintiffs to intervene to challenge a settlement.
In light of the LWDA’s support of the petition and the split of authority, it appears likely that the California Supreme Court will take the case. The ability of multiple plaintiffs to file PAGA actions to seek the same relief makes duplicative PAGA litigation common, so the California Supreme Court’s resolution of this contested issue could have a meaningful impact on the settlement of many PAGA cases throughout the state.